Warning for potential Brotherhood, Revelations and The Lost Archive spoilers
I've done something like this before. This is NOT a story. This is an essay, about Lucy Stillman, much like I did one about Altair. Know what you're getting into before you read.
A Discussion on how Ubisoft Dropped the Ball with Lucy Stillman
I'm going to start by saying that I've not yet played Revelation nor the Lost Archive, but what I have to say doesn't really matter. This is more about how Ubisoft dropped the fucking ball with Lucy Stillman, who could have become a very serious and important character (well more important) to the story of Assassin's Creed.
Okay so, first off we need to acknowledge the fact that Ubisoft decided, in their infinite wisdom, that Lucy was going to be a Templar. Now, she was originally an Assassin, one inducted into the fold, as from what I understand of canon that Assassins born into the Order aren't as common as Assassins who come into the Order at an older age. People like Shaun, Rebecca and Lucy were all inducted into the Order, meaning that the Assassins thought that they had skills that would be relevant for the Brotherhood to possess and went out and recruited them to their cause. Shaun because he became an Abstergo target. Rebecca for her electrical and computer engineering skills, and Lucy probably for her mind.
Now lets get one thing strait. Lucy is a very smart, very capable, very strong (physically and emotionally and mentally), very empowered woman. She has a lot to worry about and has a lot on her mind. She was getting her PhD for fuck's sake, though we don't know if she ever got it (at least I don't think we know) and she not Vidic, or anyone else was running the Animus during AC1 with Desmond inside. And she was the one who knew how to fix it when it malfunctioned. So say whatever you want but accept the fact that Lucy Stillman is not an idiot and probably, is smarter then Shaun who's regarded as the brainac of the group. Lols. No. Shaun is very specialized in his knowledge. He also has a more specific and focused job then Lucy does. He's a historian, and he help coordinate cells (like them) in the field (I'm not saying he isn't smart. He's incredibly intelligent. But he is intelligent in a specific field, just like Lucy and Becca are). Lucy is basically a neurophsyisist, she isn't a doctor. She can't do brain surgery or anything like that. She is a physicist. So she's all sorts of fuck off smart. That was why the Order wanted her, because she was the type of person who could get close to the Animus project. I doubt few others could have and didn't think Warren Vidic was a total fucking crack pot. Cause lets face it, the Animus sounds like super pseudoscience.
Next lets look at the fact that Lucy, according to Ubisoft, is a Templar. Excuse me while I check my pulse. That is just so SO fucking lazy Ubisoft! Lazy and bad story telling. It's an obvious move, and since when do you assholes do the obvious? I mean you successfully had a powerful macguffin through the entirety of AC1 and had deflected from it completely through the entire game before it smashed into us like a semi at the very end of the game. Holy shit that was amazing and unexpected. But now four years later you… make Lucy a Templar? The most obvious fucking move you could have made. For shame on you. Dishonor on you. Dishonor on your family. Dishonor on your cow.
How and why did Lucy become a Templar anyway? Well, we know that before she went to Abstergo she worked for the Assassins. We know this. This is canon that was established in AC1. I wonder how long she was there for. Probably years. Years of living in probably absolute terror of being discovered to be an Assassin. Years the Assassins just left her there. I'm pretty sure she thought that she was stuck there, because once the Templars get a hold of you they don't let go easily (as we've seen in all the Subjects we know of [Daniel was a sleeper agent. 13 (I believe she was 13) they messed with even when she was pregnant. Clay they pushed till he was dead. And really all the Subjects were pushed until death], Abstergo doesn't let go. They're like an alligator and once they get their teeth on you they don't let go until you've been swallowed.) so really what could she have done? The Assassins had basically cut her loose to spy for them, meanwhile she's trying not to get killed. At the same time there's Warren, a guy who I think Lucy probably looked up to in the same way Altair did to Al Mualim. Perhaps not to the mantle of father figure. But Warren understood. They were both interested in so called pseudoscience and would be laughed out of the scientific community for ever publishing a paper on the Animus or their theories on genetic memories.
So what happens when you're cut off from people who should be protecting you and, basically, your captors in general want you to succeed and probably aren't as evil seeming as your protectors made them out to be and you start to empathize with them?
Well fuck I think they call that Stockholm Syndrome.
Well shit. Didn't I say in some other essay that that probably happens to another badass lady? The Templars were offering Lucy a place in their organization, a life and the ability to continue her work in her specific scientific field. They were offering her things that the Order had probably promised her, only unlike the Order, who'd sent her into enemy territory and seemingly left her hanging out to dry, the Templars were not. Really they just wanted her to keep doing what the Assassins had sent her to do in addition to spying.
So am I surprised she went over to the Templar side?
Nope. Not at all. It's actually pretty reasonable to go native in that sort of high pressure and intense situation. She did what she had to do and I do not blame her for that.
However, what Ubisoft did after this is what pisses me off so badly it literally makes me want to throw something at a wall. It's that they kept her a Templar. If it took that much to convert her in the first place it would have to be something pretty drastic to get her to break those ties. But the thing is is that Ubisoft gave her exactly that. They gave her a serious and drastic choice that could either end in ultimate victory, or would see her dead, without question or hesitation because not only would she have been a traitor, but she would have been a deserter. Which I feel in the eyes of the Templars does not go over very well. The choice she made was if she should or shouldn't help Desmond.
But lets back up a moment really quick and look at her relationship with Clay. The Subject before Desmond and probably the one who got the ball rolling. From what we can assume, or what's been given in canon Lucy did care about Clay. Perhaps not sexually or intimately, but she did care for him and she got to watch Vidic ruin him. Do you know what that does to a person? I can't speak from personal experience but I know enough to know how someone should act. To watch someone who you thought was a good guy basically torture and destroy something you care about fucks with your brain and alters you entire perception. I'm sure she tried to argue away what Warren did, because he's her boss and he's the one who understands this amazing and new technology they're on the cutting edge of. But watching someone waste away because someone you respect is doing it to them you really start to loose that respect.
I'm fairly sure that it is canon that Lucy gave Clay the knife. I don't think she killed him. Actually there could be no way she killed him. How the fuck could she kill him and then he write shit all over the room in his blood? I don't care what Ubisoft says if they say Lucy stabbed Clay I'm calling shenanigans. But lets take a look at the first sentence again: Lucy gave Clay the knife. And she gave it to him fully knowing that he was unstable, that she couldn't save him. Well, she could have saved him, but the time for saving Clay was long since over and instead she's just stood back and let Warren do as he wanted to him. In her mind this was something she could do for him though. If Clay wanted a knife. Well, she could give it to him. She wasn't strong enough to end his life herself because when you care for someone, even as just a friend, having the will and fortitude to actually kill them is something very few people are capable. The fact that Lucy couldn't kill him shows that she is a compassionate person and that she cared. If she hadn't she would have let him go brain dead on the Animus slab. What Lucy did was her way of helping Clay. It was really one of the only things she could do for him. So she let him paint those things on the floor and on the wall and she let him kill himself.
Our society is taught that every life is precious. That no life should be snuffed out. In fact, taking your own life is illegal. You literally have so little control over your own life that if you try and fail to commit suicide I believe that, while not going to jail, are required to go get psychiatric help or be institutionalized. This of course depends on the circumstance of the attempt but for our culture it is pretty much unacceptable for someone to kill themselves and people who just stand back and do nothing to stop it are not exactly see as good people. But Clay killed himself. And Lucy let him do it. Because, however she did, she loved him, and she didn't want to see him suffer anymore. She did one of the one things that probably all her life she'd been told was something you should never do. I know we've all seen the PSAs about getting help for people who make attempts on their own lives, or even just being told to go to someone if you want to kill yourself, or to be there for whoever thinks that they need to die before the universe decides it's their time. She let him kill himself, and honestly, in that situation I can't imagine anything more humbling or understanding, because she knew the hell he was in, and this was all she could do for him. So in a way, she saved him. Sure it may have been too late but don't ever think for a second that she was selfish or wrong for doing what she did because it was insanely brave of her to give a mad man you like a knife and know what he's going to do with it and know that you will never see him again.
Now lets move on to Desmond. Oh Desmond, my favorite little punching bag. When Desmond comes around I think it's been about three months to nine months since Clay died. So the memory is still fresh. And then suddenly Lucy has to deal without another man for the Animus. Another man who she knows will eventually turn into Clay. We get to see her reactions to Desmond. She tries to be distant, she doesn't want to get wrapped up in this man, her allegiances are straining though and you can tell. Midway through the week her ability to maintain her cover sort of snaps. She calls in the Assassins. She never called them for Clay, or any of the other men or women who went into the Animus before Desmond. But for Desmond she's calling because damnit she's starting to care about him too and she refuses to see what happened to Clay happen to Desmond.
At this point I don't think Lucy was a Templar or an Assassin. She was in limbo and didn't know what side she was on. On one side were the Assassins, who could help Desmond the way she should have been able to help Clay but never did, on the other were the Templars, who had given her the tools and the time to do her research and given her the support that the Assassins never did. But she still helped Desmond the same way she did Clay. She gave him the key to his out of his room, and the passwords to get into her and Warren's emails. She knew Desmond didn't know about what was going on, but she wanted him to piece it together. To figure out what sort of bad shit he was in.
Then of course the end of AC1 happens and… OH LOOK AT FUCKING THAT! Lucy goes out on a limb for Desmond. She convinces people who are her bosses to keep Desmond around, giving her and the Assassins a bit more time to rescue Desmond. And then we know what happens in AC2, ACB and in that wreck of a game ACR.
Before we move on to the other games (mainly ACB and ACR) we're going to rewind really quick and look at a potentially really interesting plot point that Ubisoft just glazed over and forgot ever existed: Leila.
Ring any bells?
Leila is speculated to have been Lucy's friend at Abstergo and then something happens to her. We don't know. Lucy doesn't know. No one fucking knows what happened to Leila. But, we can speculate. So lets say Leila was like Lucy, she was an Assassin spy. That actually makes a lot of sense since for a deep undercover agent you may want to send in a fresh face to remind them why they're there and to keep them from going native. Now I'm just assuming that by that time Lucy had already converted (never actually physically, but psychologically she was no longer an Assassin), but still it would have been good to see Leila. But then something happens to Leila. Shit. Maybe the Templars found out? Or maybe she wasn't a spy, maybe she was just Lucy's friend. But she did something to upset her bosses and they 'took care of her' so to speak. Well. Neither scenarios looks very good for the Templars, or for Lucy honestly. It's a nice wake up call honestly to the fact that anything can happen at any time and no one is safe, and that even she is replaceable, especially since she was doing some things that were against the rules (like letting the Subjects out of their rooms, giving out passwords etc.).
Man. What a potentially awesome plot point Ubisoft just pretend didn't exist. Imagine how that could have changed Lucy's perspective and could have turned her away from the Templars.
Now we're going to move forward in time. I'm just ganna pass over AC2 since not much happens in it with Lucy other then her growing closer to Desmond and her personality as a strong female came out more as she tried to deal with all these pressures and stresses that were just pressing down on her without letting her breathe. AC2 takes place in only a few days, Desmond only sleeps twice. So they're crunched for time and that itself is a stress on everyone.
But like I said, not much beyond that happens in AC2.
In ACB however there is a lot more to look at. One being her continued growing friendship and chemistry with Desmond which really becomes important later. We see here that Lucy is doing this for someone. Honestly she could have gotten Desmond out and then just run. Run far, run fast, and just have gone. But she didn't. She stayed, because she felt responsible for him. That shows tremendous strength as she has, effectively, double crossed the two largest and most powerful organizations in the world. Huh. Who does that remind me of? Who did this exact same thing and everyone hates him for it? Oh right, Al Mualim did that exact same thing. But like Al Mualim she didn't do it without reason. She converted to the Templars because the Assassins had left her adrift, and she abandoned both ideals (which is my head canon that in the end she was neither an Assassin, nor a Templar) when she saw something more important to fight for.
This is really where Ubisoft dropped the ball.
They had all this great, rich and conflicting character development with Lucy. She is literally keeping everyone alive at this point while she herself is being squeezed by a vice from her decisions, not that they were bad. And then they do the most boring fucking thing with her. They kill her and say she was a Templar.
So I'm ganna throw out some stuff that would have been WAY more interesting then making Lucy a Templar or killing her. Cause really killing people is cool only when there's a reason behind it. Fuck I'll even throw some ideas where Lucy ends up dying from Desmond stabbing her!
First up is her emails with William. Now, in canon William is Desmond's father. Wow that is fucking boring. How about instead we make William an Templar who's trying to get Lucy back to them and get her back on their agenda. Maybe she convinced him she's still playing for their team and if just doing this to lead the Assassins on. Wow that sounds pretty fucking sweet. In canon Lucy has a problem with William and wants her to push Desmond to stay in the Animus more, to get through memories faster. She's against it the entire time, because she knows what it's doing to Desmond. Would a Templar agent with a Templar agenda really care that much about Desmond? Probably not. They could have really made William into a bad guy and made him show up in AC3 as Warren's boss. Ho damn, Mr. Big Bad Boss Templar. Way better idea then what they did with him which was turn him into Desmond's dick bag dad who, from what we know so far, didn't care that Desmond was getting more and more messed up from his time in the Animus. And lets not forget this is his son we're talking about. The dynamic here is great and could have been expanded upon and made into something interesting. Instead Ubisoft ditched it.
There is a point someone made on an AC thread about not wanting Lucy to be the cliche of "I learned from my mistakes from my friends and I'm a good person again!" to which I say, first, that that could have worked. Honestly it could have worked because just like what happened with Clay and Leila people you care about change you. So yes, having friends, and not being around Templars all the time would have gone a long way in changing her.
But even if you didn't want to go that route, here's something else you could do sort of along those lines. We'll go the selfless route first. This path is the 'I won't let them do to Desmond what they did to Clay', and this is her doing for Desmond what she was too scared or too weak to do for Clay. The selfish route is similar but goes more like 'I'm not doing this for anyone else but me and what they did to Leila', which is her being strong and fighting for what she wants instead of letting these two organizations toss her around. Which… woooah in case you didn't notice in a mirror of Desmond's journey! Who would have thought!
Third we're going to look at a scenario where Lucy dies and why Juno has Desmond kill her. So I said up in William's section that Lucy didn't want to push him, didn't want to break him really like she let Clay be broken. In a sense she was holding Desmond back from his true potential as an Assassin and basically a tool for Those Who Came Before. I know Ubisoft wants us to think that they're good guys but all I see are bad guys in ways I see the Templars as bad guys. So because Lucy was in effect going against what the Ancients wanted Juno took control of Desmond and had him stab Lucy and thus Lucy died. This opens all sorts of new ideas and scenarios you can play with concerning the Ancients, Desmond, and Lucy. Because why are the Ancients in a rush? Why Desmond? Why really did Lucy have to die when all she was doing why trying to protect Desmond? Shouldn't the Ancients want that? Shouldn't they want their tool to be able to function? So many questions with this scenario, so much to explore. Not only this but… Desmond's ganna wake up, and he knows he's the one who stabbed Lucy. She is quite literally blood on his hands in a way no one else has ever been. He's killed countless people as Ezio and Altair and seriously wounded or killed Templars, the enemy and thus not as relevant or traumatizing as killing someone who's only ever been trying to help you. How fucked up is that?
We'll do a scenario where Lucy is a Templar. While we're at it we're going to make Shaun and Rebecca Templars too because like woah this one is a head screw. So this scenario asks that you throw out everything that I've just written above and see Lucy only as a Templar with a Templar agenda. This leads to a much darker story in which Desmond is led into a false hope of being saved even as the Templars get their claws into him more thoroughly. This would also end up with a dead Lucy, since in this one Lucy actually is the enemy and in this one Desmond collapsed before Juno could make him kill Rebecca or Shaun for being 'the enemy'. I actually kinda like this scenario, someone should write a fic; I would read that shit in a hot second. It is over all, a much darker and sinister look at the AC universe and characters that we all love in it but it would have been a very good point Ubisoft could have made in their own Creed: nothing is true, everything is permitted. The very meaning behind the Creed begs for the wall of fog we allow to fall over our eyes to be removed and for us to see the dark and ugly truth of what is really happening to us.
The last scenario we'll look at is Lucy is not a Templar but in that limbo stage, she is stabbed, but she does not die. Instead Desmond wakes up from his coma and has to look at Lucy every day for the rest of his life and know that he stabbed her, that he put her in the hospital, that he almost killed her, that he gave her that huge scar on her stomach. The guilt alone would be crushing, but Lucy doesn't strike me as the type of person to blame him for what Juno made him do, which itself would be crushing in a humbling way. Because seriously, how does someone forgive that! It would have made their relationship that much more interesting as Desmond has to try and save the world and deal with this guilt he has. No matter what if she lives or dies there will be guilt but the effect is much more profound if she lives. Because if she's dead Desmond can move on, because she's gone and he'll never see her again. But if she's alive there is that daily, constant, reminder of what he did, of how weak he was to be able to protect someone the way Lucy has been protecting him all this time, from the Templars, from the Assassins; from everyone, because she wants him to live and not fall into ruin.
So there you go. Five scenarios that show just how Ubisoft fucked up a potentially amazing plot they could have had with character development and a driving story with actual reasons to ask questions and an actual sense of danger to the entire thing in general, especially the last one, as up till now I've never felt like Desmond was in any sort of danger. Altair and Ezio yes, for them I've felt like they could fail. Desmond has never had that scenario until he stabbed Lucy and killed her. That was the potential that could have happened and Ubisoft just let that ball drop. They went the easy way, the safe way, and not only didn't let her live, but they made her a Templar. The fuck is wrong with you Ubisoft! You've shown us Templars can be good. What the fuck was Maria? Why did you make such a lazy and boring story choice? You could have done so much with this one character and how they impacted not just the story but your protagonist and instead you did this and I bet you won't even mention her in AC3, which is probably the most upsetting thought.